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How to shape good residential architecture? Wojciech Wyka and Marek Pawłowski tell the story

15 of June '23

Article from A&B issue 05|2023

How to shape good residential architecture?

Regardless of all the formal, legal and technical conditions, which are an obvious necessity, in the design process we have to deal with many seemingly intangible aspects that determine the final result, which is the resulting building or housing development.

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

© ART Architekci

What, in our opinion, is important and what should we not forget when trying to create good residential architecture? We will try to briefly answer these questions using the example of Villa Redłowo, a small multi-family building with commercial units located on a steep slope between Powstania Styczniowego and Powstania Wielkopolskiego streets in Gdynia. Here are the factors that we believe are important and influence the formation of good architecture:

Context of the site. Remember that a building forms an integral whole with its surroundings and will always be perceived in a certain context. It is important to have a sense of place, as well as to know its conditions and history. In the case of the presented Villa Redłowo, we referred to modernist villas that were built in Gdynia in the interwar period. From the side of the intimate, upward-rising Powstania Wielkopolskiego Street, the building relates to the neighboring buildings with its small dimensions. It is completely different from the side of the busier Powstania Styczniowego street, where it resembles an imposing tenement house with service premises in the ground floor.

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

© ART Architekci

The idea. There is no architecture without context, but there is also no good architecture without an overarching idea, without a conscious, clear and consistent message. In the case of Villa Redlowo, we were guided by the spirit of modernism and minimalism with conscious self-restraint of means of expression and creation of rational space.

Rationality of solutions. Architecture uses contemporary language, using modern technological achievements. The means used and the quality of solutions should be adequate to the place and the requirements of potential customers. When designing, keep in mind the bills for operation and utilities that future users will pay.

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

© ART Architekci

Friendly scale. Even if we are designing a large estate and economic factors determine the large size of the buildings, we should try to create friendly and intimate places. In the case of the building in question, there was no such problem, by design the right scale was maintained here.

Good cooperation and mutual understanding with the developer. Of course, developer investments are commercial and generate profits, but tables and accountants should not always rule. Together, let's ensure the quality of architecture. The effect largely depends on the solutions jointly developed by the designers and the developer.

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

© ART Architekci

Empathy, that is, an attempt to put oneself in the role of the future resident, understanding his needs. Let's design apartments in a flexible way, providing for the possibility of their transformation and combination, depending on individual needs. Let's check the positioning of rooms with future users in mind. Let's not forget to emphasize the entrance part of the building, the solution of common areas consistent with the external architecture. Already after crossing the threshold of the building, the resident should feel at home. Such mundane matters as convenient access to trash, parking, bicycles are important.

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

Willa Redłowo Gdynia | proj.: Art Architekci

© ART Architekci

Attention to architectural detail in both the building and its surroundings. Attention to greenery in the surroundings. The perception of architecture largely depends on the perspective from which we view it. A building that looks very good from afar can, if the detail is neglected, give a terrible impression up close. Fortunately, in our daily practice we see that the awareness and aesthetic needs of both the creators and recipients of residential architecture are gradually increasing.

Wojciech Wyka, Marek Pawłowski

ART Architects

illustrations courtesy of Ekolan

Other episodes of this series you can find here: How to fix Polish housing? We asked the experts

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